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Dave Chappelle responds to backlash over remarks about trans people in Netflix special

"I am not bending to anybody's demands," says the comic, adding: "You will not summon me"

By Jamie Tabberer

Words: Jamie Tabberer; picture: Wiki

Dave Chappelle has said he will not bend “to anybody’s demands” following backlash to remarks he made about trans people in a Netflix special this month.

In The Closer, released on 5 October, Chappelle said: “I’m team TERF [trans-exclusionary radical feminist].”

He added: “Gender is a fact. Every human being in this room, every human being on Earth, had to pass through the legs of a woman to be on Earth. This is a fact.”

This led to global criticism, and a walkout at Netflix by employees who are trans and their allies. At least 1,000 employees took part in the protest on 20 October.

Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos issued company-wide memos about the row, which he later said “lacked humanity”, adding: “I screwed up.”

In one of the messages to staff, he said: “We understand that the concern is not about offensive-to-some content, but titles which could increase real-world harm… While some employees disagree, we have a strong belief that content on screen doesn’t directly translate to real-world harm.”

“It seems like I’m the only one who can’t go into the office anymore”

Chappelle responded to the controversy on Instagram last night, posting a video of himself speaking at a recent comedy show. His comments about the controversy are as follows.

“It was said in the press that I was invited to speak to the transgender employees of Netflix, and I refused.

“That is not true. If they had invited me, I would have accepted it. Although I am confused about what we are speaking about. I said what I said and boy, I heard what you said. My god, how could I not?

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“You said you want a safe working environment at Netflix. Well, it seems like I’m the only one who can’t go into the office anymore.

“I want everyone in this audience to know that even though the media frames this as me versus that community, that’s not what it is. Do not blame the LGBTQ community for any of this s**t. This has nothing to do with them, it’s about corporate interests, and what I can say and cannot say.

“For the record, and I need you to know this, everyone I know from that community has been nothing but loving and supporting. So, I don’t know what all this nonsense is about.”

He later added: “[A new film] that I made was invited to every film festival in the United States. Some of those invitations I accepted. When this controversy came out about The Closer, they began disinviting me from these film festivals. Now, today, not a film company, movie studio, film festival, nobody will touch this film. Thank god for Ted Sarandos at Netflix, he’s the only one who didn’t cancel me yet.

“To the transgender community, I am more than willing to give you an audience. But you will not summon me. I am not bending to anybody’s demands.”

Closing with a list of demands, Chappelle said: “If you want to meet with me, I’d be more than willing to, but I have some conditions. First of all, you cannot come if you have not watched my special from beginning to end. You must come to a place of my choosing, at a time of my choosing.”

He then joked: “Thirdly, you must admit that [lesbian comic] Hannah Gadsby is not funny.”